A few years ago, I lost my enthusiasm for Christmas.

I used to love shopping (okay, not in crowds, and mostly online), and if I didn’t have most of my gifts purchased by December 1st, I felt behind. I mailed my Christmas cards so early, people probably grumbled when they saw them. I baked; I decorated; I sang Christmas carols.

And then … my kids stopped believing in Santa.

It was a blow. My husband and I looked at each other in horror and disappointment when we realized, and I knew we were thinking the same thing. No more Santa-Tracking on the internet. No reason to buy secret Santa wrapping paper and hide it in the closet. No need to bring the presents downstairs secretly on Christmas Eve. No more half-eaten cookies and reindeer-chomped celery left on the hearth. It was the end of an era.

I’m sorry to say the joy kind of trickled out of Christmas … I don’t think I even bothered to put up decorations that year. Cards went out late. Presents were wrapped early and under the tree in advance, and the kids knew exactly what they were because they told us what to buy.

On Christmas morning, instead of bringing us Barbie Dolls to liberate from their packaging (savvy adults know to come armed with wire cutters and a seam ripper), the girls took their iTunes gift cards and jumped on the computer to upload their own songs. They put their headphones on and fell into their DS Nintendo games. Nobody needed me to unpackage anything, and there wasn’t a single item under the tree made by Fisher Price.

It’s been about 3 years since the axe fell on Santa, and I’m still trying to recover from it. Yes, yes, I know Santa is not the POINT of Christmas. But his passing left a gaping hole in our family traditions, and with our girls too big for “TOYS,” Christmas morning just isn’t as much fun (for me).

Maybe it’s time to develop some new Salerni Christmas traditions. My husband votes we start a tradition whereby “Gabbey and Gina visit the Grandparents” and “Dianne and Bob visit the Caribbean.”

But I was thinking more along the lines of something that included the teen and the tween. Any suggestions?

P.S. Since writing this, I was happy to learn my sister’s family is coming from Kansas to stay with us over Christmas – AND my 7-year old niece Olivia is still a believer. You know what that means? SANTA’S BACK AND THERE WILL BE BARBIES! (Gotta find my seam ripper.)